Information on votives, please
I have clean beeswax piling up around here, so I am contemplating starting small on candles: votives. I am confused by the different types of molds - plastic, metal, silicon, etc. and release agents, tabbed wicks, wick sizes. I know I should buy a book, but my budget is low, especially starting out when I don't know a thing about candles, and I don't want to get equipment and supplies if I don't need or won't use it.
If there is a cheap good book, please recommend it - or better yet if there is a good web site with step-by-step instructions and recommendations on supplies or if you can guide me with assistance based on your experience making candles, that would be great! Remember, I'm on a low budget and I want to invest in supplies which will be able to be used on larger candles, too. Thanks in advance for your help!
Mapman, There are a number of ways you can go. If you want to keep it as inexpensive as possible you can buy the metal votive molds like betterbee and brushy mountain an dother online places carry. They also sell wicks and supplies. You can buy pre-tabbed wicks that you just set in or buy tabs and wicking and make your own. It depends on your time/money ratio. Craft stores like Michaels also sells supplies but check prices. For the metal molds you'll need to use release spray. After the candles set, pop them in the freezer and they will easily come out of the molds.
So a basic setup would be:
A double boiler which can be a couple of old pans, something to filter the wax through into a pouring pot (could be an old coffee or teapot with a lip) Even seemingly clean wax needs to be filtered for good results.
Thermometer for checking wax temperature
I started out buying metal votive and short taper candle molds.
After I sold enough, I added long taper, small votive, and pillar candle molds, and built myself one of the controversial Presto Pots. My small votive and pillar molds are the flexible type and all of the others are the old fashioned metal type.
I think it would benefit most small operation beekeepers to add candles, lotion, and lip balm to their product line. When I run out of honey (usually late spring, there is still some income from the other stuff, and it's great during the holiday season.
here is a link to a craft forum on candlemaking.
Thanks very much for the information, Berkshire!
What do you use to filter the wax through into the pouring pot?
Have you used wick pins for your votives? Pros and cons -
I've heard that wicks for beeswax-based candles need to be different than paraffin - is this the case?
Also, should beeswax be melted to a different temperature than other waxes prior to pouring into molds?
Thanks again for your help!
I filter through cloth Betterbee sells. I think one is 60 mesh and the other is 100. They are probably available at a fabric store. I made a double filter (which I may have posted pics of previously) out of needlepoint hoops. They set in a bucket over the pouring pot and the wax goes through both filters into the pot.
The small votive mold which is flexible comes with wick pins, which work fine.
The metal votive molds take the pre assembled wicks.
Betterbee has a wicking seection which calls for
60 ply square braid for pillars over 3"
#2 wicking for tapers of all types
zinc core for votives
I use regular wicking on my votive molds that use wick pins
around 160 degrees seems to work well. it depends on what you are pouring. You can get away a little cooler for the tealights and small votives
You'll need a wicking needle if you go with rubber molds.
I have the '6 in a row' metal votive molds that work well and I always use wick pins.
Couple suggestions...If you're using the metal molds, be sure to invest in mold release and spray both mold and wick pin -seperately.
As for wicking, I use "ECO 2 3" Wick Assemblies". I needed to make about 150 votives for a function last spring and needed to crank out the candles pretty quickly. I tried using the wick pins with regular square braid wicking (I tried primed and unprimed) and ended up virtually pulling my hair out! The ECO 2 wicks are coreless wicks (versus zinc core, which some try to stay away from). They're nice and stiff, so they actually slide through the hole left by the wick pin and the "2" seemed to work well for the votives I was making.
In the past I have looked for a good refernce guide for making BEESWAX candles and I have not found anything that has more than a mention of beeswax. I suggest you invest in a couple molds and wick pins and experiment with different pour temps. If at first you don't succeed, you can always melt it back down again!
Luscious, Where do you get your wick assemblies?
Thanks, Luscious (oooh, got a tingle writing that!). I appreciate the information! They have good prices on that link too.
The wicks are the only thing I have purchased from them, but I did call and talk to a sales rep who pointed me in the right direction. All in all, I was pleased with the service I received.
Now... if I could only get my butt in gear and make some candles again. I bought some 10" and 12" taper molds (flexible) that I have been dying to try out!
Silicone makes for finer candles
We use a silicone 4-votive mold, and it works really well for making votives. We tried using the metal molds, but they often come out funky looking, or cracked because of how they cool. Plus with the metal mold, the top of the candle is the top of the mold, and funky cooling leads to a bad looking candle top. The silicone molds, however, have the top of the candle at the bottom of the mold, so every time the candles come out with the part that people look at looking smooth and attractive. If there's a mess on the underside, you can trim it with an X-acto knife so the candle sits level.
One beekeeper whose stand we've passed by has been making candles for years, and he obviously uses the metal molds, and the results are lumpy looking candles. You might pay a little more for the silicone mold, but you'll sell more. You'll also need to buy a wicking needle, but you won't need wicking tabs at all.
I use a silicone for the small votives and it does make a quality candle